While a lot of people take antibiotics to try and treat a sore throat, 90% of the time this class of drugs won’t be successful in killing off the infection that has caused the sore throat.
This is because antibiotics are good at treating throat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria, as it turns out, are only responsible for causing about 10% of all sore throats in the morning. By far, the biggest culprit in triggering a throat infection is a virus.
Viruses don’t respond to antibiotics. And when these drugs are taken for a condition they can’t even treat, the end result is often side effects instead of an improvement in symptoms. Side effects like yeast infections, allergic reactions and adverse interactions with other medication are all too common.
A team of researchers recently looked into the whole issue of antibiotics, sore throats, and viral infections. They analyzed data from 8,200 primary care and emergency room visits that took place over 13 years. It turns out that antibiotics were prescribed to 60% of the patients who arrived at the doctor’s office or hospital complaining of a sore throat. What’s more, these antibiotics were often new and expensive drugs.
Before you write off antibiotics completely, however, there is one condition that does benefit from antibiotic treatment and that’s strep throat. Strep throat is characterized by fever, swollen lymph nodes, and the absence of a cough. It’s important to note that strep throat is treatable with penicillin. Penicillin is one of the first antibiotics discovered and is a lot less expensive than some of the newer drugs being prescribed.
The research team also discovered that the number of people seeking treatment for a sore throat dropped by 50%. The researchers chalk this dip in visits to an increasing reliance on natural remedies along with fears over “superbugs.” Superbugs are resistant to most bacteria, causing infections to become untreatable.
If you want to treat your sore throat with some natural remedies, what are some treatments you can turn to? Here’s a list of six natural remedies that you can try at home to try to heal your sore throat. Remember, if you have any symptoms of a strep throat, a visit to the doctor is in order.
1. Gargle with salt water. Salt water helps to kill off the infection that often accompanies a sore throat.
2. Try a teaspoon of warm honey. Honey is one of the best natural remedies because it is a wound healer and could help to rid your sore throat of painful inflammation and redness.
3. Drink herbal tea. There are a number of herbal teas designed specifically as natural remedies intended to treat a sore throat. Try sipping one of these teas morning, noon, and before bed to ease sore throat symptoms.
4. Try some lemon. Lemon can help to fight off any lingering infection in your throat.
5. Run a humidifier. Keeping moisture in the air that circulates throughout your home can go a long way towards soothing a dry and scratchy throat.
6. Drink garlic tea. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and antiviral. Make a tea from raw cloves of garlic, add a little honey and sip throughout the day.
“Antibiotics Not Always Useful: Try Natural Therapies For Your Sore Throat,” The Alternative Daily web site, Oct. 25, 2013; http://www.thealternativedaily.com/antibiotics-always-useful-try-natural-therapies-sore-throat/, last accessed Nov. 7, 2013.
Ruetzler, K., et al., “A randomized, double-blind comparison of licorice versus sugar-water gargle for prevention of postoperative sore throat and postextubation coughing,” Anesth Analg. September 2013; 117(3): 614-21.